A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Growing Up in a Breastfeeding World

by Tom M

I’ve often read the concerns of women who are worried about their children seeing a mother breastfeeding. I’ve heard they might get the wrong idea about breasts, or they could be traumatized if they should happen to see a mother breastfeeding. Or it is disrespectful to other people’s children for a mother to breastfeed in their presence. Until I started reading these concerns I must admit I took my experiences as the son of a breastfeeding mother somewhat for granted. It was a way of life for me that wasn’t out of the ordinary so I never gave it much thought. It didn’t know it was strange to grow up like I did until I started seeing how people look at breastfeeding moms today. I still have trouble understanding how it can be viewed as gross or disgusting. Now I find myself appreciative that my mother took the time to educate and expose us to breastfeeding as kids.

The most common concern I’ve heard of a child witnessing breastfeeding is tied to sex. I can assure you at 6 or 7 years of age I didn’t know what sex was and I sure didn’t know that breasts had anything to do with it. A child that age is not going to make a connection between breasts and sex unless someone tells them there is one. Even then they won’t understand what it means unless you go into graphic detail to paint an unnecessary picture in their minds about it. What many parents, adamant that breastfeeding remain hidden to their children, are unwittingly doing is transferring their own hang-ups or misconceptions about breastfeeding and sex onto their kids. The bottom line is that a child doesn’t reason like an adult. A simple explanation about what’s happening, much like you would explain if they saw puppies nursing, will suffice. There really is no need to have “the talk” just because they see a woman breastfeeding. If you do, then you are beginning to create in their minds a negative stigma about breastfeeding that doesn’t ever need to be there.

Childhood is the perfect time to educate kids on the proper function of breasts before society begins to imprint the overly sexualized view of breasts. The older a person gets the more set in their ideology they become. Then we end up with all these insensitive, ignorant and childish reactions that pop on social media outlets like Facebook. If it is a frequent occurrence in children’s lives it becomes normal to them. That’s how it was for me wherever I saw it growing up. Just like people don’t bat an eye when a mother takes out a bottle to feed her baby in our society, we didn’t bat an eye when a mom breastfed her baby in our world. It was natural and normal to us. Normal leads to supportive husbands, partners, sons, brothers or just men in general. Then women don’t have to fight so hard just to be able to have the right to feed their babies in public or anywhere else.

That’s my take from my experience as a child growing up in a breastfeeding world. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you moms and supportive dads like my father was.


Tom M